Wednesday, August 29, 2012

sometimes I feel like Habakkuk

There are big things going on in this country and in this world that sometimes make me feel exactly how Habakkuk does:

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted. ~Habakkuk 1:2-4

I read this complaint to God last week and all I could think was, "I feel you Habakkuk. My heart is burdened just like yours." Don't you hear the frustration in his voice? That is the frustration in my prayer often times when I pray for the end of abortion; when I think about all of those innocent unborn babies who deserve life but instead get death. I feel that frustration when I think about the direction our country is headed; all the debt that we've laid upon our children's shoulders. It's the frustration I feel when I pray for the people in Haiti who just experienced flooding from a tropical storm and are still living in tents because of an earthquake that happened years ago. And I could go on and on...

And then there are things going on in my own life that make me feel like Habakkuk. I hate that sometimes my heart wonders if God has forgotten about me and my family. I know He hasn't, but that doubt still creeps in. I'm frustrated and I cry out to Him often. And I wait.

Then last week I signed onto Facebook and someone had posted this verse:

"Then the Lord said to me,

'Write my answer plainly on tablets,
so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed.' ~Habakkuk 2:2-3

I immediately felt like the Lord was using that friend and her status to speak directly into my heart; directly into the situation in which my family is currently living.

You'll probably notice a theme throughout my blog posts this month, and most likely into next month and potentially on from there: waiting, waiting on the Lord. To be honest I'm pretty sure God has determined that to be the theme of my life. He even saw fit to have me marry a man who is incredibly long-suffering and doesn't mind waiting for anything (I mean, is that even human??)

The last line of those 2 verses is hardest for me to wrap my heart around: "It will not be delayed". That is not what things feel like right now! But the truth of the matter is that God isn't confined by the time and space He created. He is outside of time and so He doesn't delay. He's not watching what is going on and waiting to interject. Instead, the plan is already in place. His provisions are complete. The story has already been written.

Obviously my brain gets that, right? But how do I get it to my heart!? I've heard it said that the furthest distance is between your brain and your heart. At least that is very much the case with me. My brain gets it; my heart doesn't want to embrace it.

And yet it's the words that Habakkuk writes in his prayer later on that I cling to:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights. ~Habakkuk 3:17-19

And I can cling to these words because I know my God. I can always rejoice in who He is no matter what my circumstance. Even when things are not going my way. Even when I have to wait. Even when it doesn't seem like God hears me or is even near, I know the truth is this: The Lord is my strength! He is my salvation. And that is something in which to rejoice, always.

I just had to say, I saw that verse on Facebook last week and decided to read through the whole book (yes, all 3 chapters!). I underlined verses that stood out to me and took some notes. Then on Sunday we get to church and our Pastor is speaking about going through difficult times and guess what verses he talks about? Habakkuk :17-19. I turned to my husband and showed him that I had just marked those verses in my Bible a few days before! Coincidence? I think not..

And then we joked about how one day soon we're going to get kicked out of church for whispering. Because truly, we're a couple of children.

Friday, August 24, 2012

when your child goes from baby to boy

Isaac turned 18 months a couple weeks ago. That officially makes him a toddler (although he's been "toddling" since he was 10 months old). It's been incredible to watch him go from a baby to a full blown little boy. He walks, runs, jumps, and climbs like a child. And hardly ever acts like a baby anymore. I miss him being small enough to cuddle on my chest and hold in my arms. But I love how cuddly he has become as he's gotten older. And not to mention, how stinkin' cute his personality is!

[waiting for lunch with daddy at Panda Express]

At 18 months, Isaac:

eats with a spoon and fork (very, very well)
is jabbering like crazy, although we can't understand a word
says one word: "no" (seriously people, that's the only word he will say but he knows how to use it and says it clear as day)
follows simple and complex instructions
loves music and stops to dance every time he hears it (no joke. every. single. time.)
blows kisses
shakes your hand
laughs at his own farts and burps (and others)
loves peek-a-boo
tickles others and thinks it's hilarious
climbs on everything
opens doors (like turns the knobs and pushes/pulls the door open)
unzips zippers!!
drinks from a sippy cup
loves guacamole
is super comfortable in the pool
he has all teeth except his 4 2-year-molars
naps from 1-3:30pm
sleeps solid at night from 8pm-8am
loves to read
has the most amazing personality and makes me laugh on a daily basis

[barefeet in the carseat. look at those crossed hands!]

IMG_3696[getting a haircut from daddy]

And can I just say how much I am loving this age?!! While we have our days and butt heads, because Isaac knows exactly what to do to get under my skin, we have so much fun together. Last night we sat on the floor in his bedroom with a big flat box, 4 dice and a wooden spoon and played for 1/2 an hour! We rolled dice like we were playing craps. We counted dice as Isaac placed them on the wooden spoon. We ran the spoon across the box to make a funny noise. It was a blast.

011[my little ninja turtle]

This week we've started some structured educational time. Next week we will officially go onto a daily schedule. I can't wait to see how that works out. Right now it seems like Isaac gets bored easily and I feel bad. I know he need structure. And that's what he'll get! We'll be learning colors, shapes, doing Bible story time paired with coloring, crafts and music. We'll have music and dance time, cooking time, intentional play time and outside time (can't wait for summer to be over).

[sitting on the "big balls" at Target (Wipe Out reference)]

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Isaac goes to college

My husband will be attending UNLV this fall (my alma mater). This past week we took a family trip over to campus so Ben could get some administrative things done.


In the mean time, Isaac and I walked over to the office where my mom works. She gave him his own desk and computer and called him her "new student worker".


I made sure Isaac wore one of his Rebels shirts, so he would fit right in.


We took a stroll over to the student union and had pizza for lunch.


He snacked on popcorn the whole time.

It was good to be back on campus. I graduated 4 years ago. I can't believe that. Most of it is the same; some things are different. We had fun walking around while I gave Ben a tour of the campus. He's a science major, while I was a psych major (liberal arts) so he'll be going to classes on a completely different part of campus than I did. It's the prettier, nicer part of campus if you ask me! It's older and surrounded by big old trees and there is grass too. I'm excited for him to finally be going to a university and I know he's glad to be going to the school in his hometown.

And it will be fun to go to some Rebels basketball games with Isaac!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

what are Christians to do with karma?

It's a pretty commonly used word, isn't it? Karma. But to be honest, when I hear the word, it makes my skin crawl. I cannot understand how anyone, outside of a religion that teaches and practices it, can actually, honestly believe it to be real.

kar-ma: the force generated by a person's actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person's next existence. source

There's the definition, although I don't think it does a very good job of defining how karma is used in our modern day lingo. So I looked it up on urban dictionary, and it said this:

karma: The Buddhist belief that whatever you do comes back to you. source

Make a little more sense now? I thought so too.

I could go on and on about what I think about karma and how dumb I think the concept is, but the title of this post is "what are Christians to do with it" so let's stick to that. To begin with, notice in both definitions that karma is a Buddhist or Hindu belief (there are actually a couple other religions that subscribe to it as well, but for our purpose today, we'll just talk about the most known)? It comes from Eastern religion. There is absolutely nothing about karma in the Bible. Nothing, Nada, Zip.

The idea of karma in our culture is pretty simple:. You do something and based on whether that action is good or bad, the same kind of something is supposed to come back around to you: Hit someone's dog with a car and drive off? Look out because you'll get your's. Pay for someone's meal who is hungry? Something good will eventually make it's way around to you.

But the truth is that true karma isn't quite that simple. We have simplified it in Western culture. And the problem with that is that people have begun to use it loosely and now believe it to be true in a form that is 1. different from it's actual meaning and 2. something that is entirely different than what scripture teaches.

What I think most people forget about karma is that it isn't just the idea of justice and reward. It's actually tied directly to reincarnation. Now, I could just stop here and say that as Christians, because we don't believe in reincarnation, we therefore cannot accept karma. But that would be boring. So let's dive in a little deeper:

Karma is a like a bank account of your actions over the course of your life. At death, you cash in that account. If you have more good than bad, you'll move up in the next life. If you have more bad than good, you'll move down. If you do something extremely terrible, than you might even come back as a different species, like a worm. It you are close enough to the top and do enough good, then you'll reach nirvana. Either way, it's a long process that occurs over the course of many lives and with alot of personal effort.

I have to jump in here and say: there isn't much hope in that type of system. I mean, I'm not a terrible person, but I'm also certainly no saint. And I don't think that even given an unlimited number of lives that I would be able to achieve perfection on my own. But I digress...

The question comes down to this: Is there any possible way that we can reconcile how karma works with what Christianity teaches? Nope.

The scriptures teach that this is our one and only life. We are created [that means we are not pre-existant in any form] in the womb. When we die and move on from this world, we go to 1 of 2 places: the presence of God for eternity or eternal separation from Him. There's no in between (which means there is no such thing as ghosts), there's no second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth chance at life, there's no pergatory, there's no "next life". There is only eternity.

We cannot claim to place our faith in Jesus Christ as a Christian and also believe in karma.

Karma is relying on your own strength to acheive perfection. Christianity is Jesus' perfection on your behalf.

Karma says that a supernatural force determines consequences. Christianity says the consequence of sin is death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Karma teaches that what happens to you in the next life is based on a sum of your actions in this one. Christianity teaches that God's grace through Jesus means your sin is washed away.

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin~ 1 John 1:7

Karma says, do your best. Christianity says, Jesus is the best and did the best on your behalf; just rest in Him.

Karma is a rigorous, long process to nirvana. Christianity is a taking on Jesus' easy yoke and spending eternity in relationship with Him.

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light"~ Jesus, Matthew 11: 30

But why does it even matter? This is not something to take lightly because the idea of karma itself implies the belief in reincarnation. If we claim Christ, we need to believe in truth. We need to claim scripture as truth. And we know that scripture teaches something far different from reincarnation.

When it comes down to it, we are called to stand firm on truth and call out lies. Karma is a lie. It doesn't exist. And it certainly cannot be reconciled with our faith in Christ, His redeeming work on the cross and our eternal life with the Lord.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

don't give up on God

My story begins long before we found out we were pregnant. It starts before we even got married. Our story begins with God. It begins with His plan, His provision. He is provisionary, not reactionary. He knew all my days before they began. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knit my daughter together in my womb. He is intimately involved in every detail of my life and the lives of all of my children.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. ~Psalm 139: 13-16

But I'm getting ahead of myself. So, let's rewind a bit:

Ben and I were married in 2004. I was a day away from 19 and he was just 20. Yes, we were kids. Yes, we were blindly in love. And yes, we had the usual "5 year plan".

4 years into marriage, in 2008, we decided we were ready to start our family. But we didn't consult God. We didn't seek His plan. We just stuck to our own plan. Since then, I've come to learn that my plan is usually not God's plan.

I got pregnant almost immediately. We never have trouble getting pregnant. But about 12 weeks in, we found out that something was not right. Our baby girl had a chromosomal abnormality that was causing other serious issues. The prognosis was grim. And at 25 weeks, we lost her.

I went in for a routine check up and there was no heartbeat. But I knew before that appointment what the outcome was going to be. A mother knows when something is wrong. Just a few days before, I had woken up abruptly in the middle of the night, freezing to death (in the middle of August in Las Vegas). I knew at that moment that we had lost her. The doctor's appointment was simply a confirmation of my gut.

We expected it, but we had been praying for a different outcome. I spent hours and hours weeping, searching scripture, crying out to God, begging Him to heal my daughter, asking Him to let me keep her. But that was not the plan. He healed her, but not how I wanted. She is not here with us on earth. She is with Him now; perfect and safe.

It's sometimes difficult to see God in situations where your heart has been broken into a thousand pieces, but He is there. Don't give up on Him. I've written before about how I experienced God in the midst of our entire cirumstance. He was near to me. He provided for me every single step of the way. He never let me down.

After we lost baby Isabella, we knew we wanted to try again. The disorder she had was not genetic and it was extremely unlikely that any other children would have it. So we did just that. We tried again. We got pregnant again and miscarried. We got pregnant again and miscarried. We got pregnant again and miscarried.

Yes, you read that right. We lost 4 babies over the course of 2 years. I was devastated. I was broken. I questioned God about why He would place "mother" and "family" on my heart if it wasn't going to happen. At least, it seemed very clear that it wasn't going to happen.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. ~Matthew 6:34 the message

But guess what, God doesn't ever let you down. It may seem like He isn't there. But He is. It may seem like He doesn't care or isn't providing. But that is just your perspective. He always provides and He always comforts. Turn to Him and allow Him to do those things.

Over the course of the next year, Ben and I discussed our options. We decided that we would try to get pregnant one more time before he deployed to Afghanistan. If we didn't get pregnant, then I would spend the entire deployment researching adoption and preparing to head down that road.

Ben left on May 1, 2010.

On May 14, he called for the first time from Afghanistan and I took a pregnancy test while he was on the phone with me.

It was positive.

On January 25, 2011, I gave birth to our beautiful, wonderful, amazing tornado of a boy. We named him Isaac: "laughter". He is our joy.

A friend recently commented on a photo of Isaac on Facebook saying, "What a precious gift from the Lord your little guy is. He must love you so much to bless you like this."

That is the perspective I need to keep: God loves me. God provides for me. Yes, bad things happen because unfortunately there is sin and death in this world. But that doesn't mean God doesn't care. It doesn't mean that He isn't providing for you and near to you, right now; in the midst of your pain. It doesn't mean He can't heal your heart.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. ~Psalm 147:3

If you have been struggling, particularly with loss, miscarriage, infertility, I can't tell you exactly what the Lord's will is for you. I can't guarantee that He will or won't open your womb. But I can, with absolutely certainty tell you one thing: God won't let you down, ever. You can trust Him. If there is one thing that the Lord has been showing me over the course of my 27 years on this earth, it's that.

an update since I originally wrote this post: we welcomed another baby, Elijah Patrick, in November 2012 and we're currently expecting another! Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude and joy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

water baby

We started swim lessons last week. And I must say, Isaac really loves it! He has become so comfortable in the water in just a few days. He even kicked on his own today (my stubborn boy who I know knosw how to kick but refused to do it all last week). He sometimes blows bubbles and loves to splash. My favorite part is when I get in the pool and reach up to get him in and he literally jumps into my arms into the water.

Since he had so much fun during swim lessons, we decided to take him to the activity pool/splash pad on Friday. With daddy around he was so much braver in the water than he is with me! He follows him everywhere and when he fell face first into the water, he didn't freak out or cry. He has definitely become quite a little water baby!


It has been a pretty tame summer in Vegas, although it's still been in the 100s. So just a little bit of time in the pool each day is so refreshing. Even after swim lessons are over this week we'll be taking several more trips to the pool before summer is over; I'm sure of it. And I know Isaac won't object!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

thoughts on being pregnant (again)

Pregnancy is an amazing, yet weird time. I mean, you're pregnant for almost a year (and if you count a nursing newborn who is basically attached to you at all times for the first few months, you may as well call it a year!). But it's not just that I am pregnant. I'm carrying a child; an entirely separate life from my own. There is a separate person, with his own heart, blood, brain, eyes, thoughts and dreams, living inside of me! Amazing? Yes. Weird? Yes.

And because of it, I call myself blessed.

2012-07-22_21-17-04_106[23 weeks]

I read somewhere recently that "uterus" is Hebrew for "compassion". Wow. Isn't that so cool? What can be more compassionate than allowing a tiny little person, whom you've never met, to set up camp inside your own body for 9 whole months?

And again I say, I am blessed.

If you're new here, this is my sixth pregnancy (4 of my babies are with the Lord). And yet, every time I am pregnant, I am amazed at what is going on in my womb. I am grateful that the Lord would chose me to care for these precious children. And I can't get over the amazing growth and development that is taking place minute by minute.

So far, this pregnancy has been great. I've also been eating better than I did with Isaac and I'm trying to be much more conscious about how much exercise I'm getting. That has definitely made a difference (not that my pregnancy with Isaac was terrible, but I can tell a difference).

I am currently 25 weeks. Yes, I just had to look that up. Chasing around a toddler while pregnant means I don't get to focus as much on the pregnancy. I haven't been taking weekly photos like I did with Isaac and I obviously haven't been posting weekly either. I have hardly even begun to think about a theme for Elijah's nursery and I've bought only one new item for him (a stinkin' cute swim suit). Thankfully he'll just be able to wear all of Isaac's old clothes!

Not shopping for new clothes = one very happy mommy.

2012-06-26_14-31-26_600[19 week ultrasound]

My next appointment with my midwife is next week. I was a little nervous about finding a new midwife after the move because I loved my midwife in Texas, alot. But I was able to find a great midwife here in Vegas almost immediately! Yay! She is super sweet, seems to be very flexible and she has 5 kids herself.

My second trimester has been wonderful. I can't believe how much energy I've had. Which worked out quite well because our move from Texas to Vegas was last month and I needed all the energy I could get to pack and clean and fly half way across the country with a 17 month old wiggly, squirmy boy.

And I'm thankful for the energy now because my first trimester was horrendous. I was on progesterone because of my previous miscarriages. I was also on progesterone with Isaac, and it was bad, but for whatever reason, this time it was way worse. I was a zombie. There were mutliple weeks, probably 4-5 weeks, that I couldn't get off the couch, at. all. Isaac basically ran around the house on his own or would play on the floor in front of me. My wonderful husband cleaned, cooked dinner and prepared meals for Isaac the entire time.

We took a trip to San Antonio when I was about 7 weeks pregnant and I did not think I was going to make it through the weekend. It was hot, I was sick and tired, but I wanted to go and have a good time. And we did. Even with my very limited appetite.

[currently reading]

As far as preparing for labor goes, I'm really excited about it this time. With Isaac I was nervous, obviously. Now that I've been through it and I know what happens during and have experienced the incredible end result (a new baby!!) I am not nervous or afraid of it at all. In fact, I almost wonder if it will go quicker simply because I will be so ready to hold Elijah. I was, of course, excited to hold Isaac, but I had never had that experience before. I didn't really know what to expect. I didn't really understand how wonderful it would be. This time, I know what I'm looking forward to. I'm hoping that will give me more energy and motivation to get through labor, and pushing.

I have about 15 weeks to go and I couldn't be more excited to have another little one. I especially excited for Isaac to have a little brother. We joke that the 2 of them have already been plotting together about how to spread mayhem once Elijah is born. Isaac has no idea that he is about to get a partner in crime!